Opinion

Exciting Westside election coming up

To the editor:

It distresses me greatly to see the disproportionate amount of press which is being given to the pro-amalgamation candidates in the District of Westside pre-election coverage. What distresses me more, however, is that no-one—press or other candidates—are challenging the basis of some of Ms. Neis’s assertions. I feel compelled to take issue with several of these.

Ms. Neis claims that it will take 11 months—not 10 or 12—to collect the required signatures on the pro-amalgamation petitions, namely 50 per cent plus one of eligible voters. I admire her self-assurance, but am already doubting her credibility. In the June referendum, the pro-amalgamation votes numbered 5,582 or 48 per cent of the total votes cast of 11,586. However, since only 48.7 per cent of eligible voters actually cast a ballot, the pro-amalgamation votes totalled only 23.4 per cent of the 23,790 eligible voters. I am at a loss to see how Ms. Neis can possibly be so sure of getting 52 per cent of the non-voters to sign her petitions and all within precisely 11 months. This would also assume, of course, that all those people who originally voted in favour of amalgamation will sign. I am sure few of those who voted to amalgamate were deeply entrenched in that position. Many will be like Aaron Dinwoodie and Doug Findlater who found themselves slightly more in favour of that option and have since changed their positions and are running as candidates for council to be part of building our new municipality.

In the Nov. 3 edition of The Okanagan, Ms. Neis spent most of her comments addressing the importance of finding “good, qualified staff for the short period that we are a municipality…” This is “what council will rely on to make educated, intelligent decisions…if we cannot have adequate staff to address the need of the Westside, council will have a tough time making decisions.” Is she kidding? Does she honestly think that any “experts in engineering, development and permits” are going to leave their present management jobs to come and work for a municipality which will be gone in less than a year? In this market, and with our house prices? Give me a break!

Realistically, are our taxes going to go up if we incorporate? Without a doubt and probably by quite a bit more than the study team projected. The fact is, you get what you pay for. Ms. Neis contends that she wants to see all her tax dollars going towards services and not administration. My priority is that my tax dollars stay in the Westside, to be spent on Westside services, and administered by Westside people according to Westside priorities. Even if guarantees are given that Westside taxes will be spent on the Westside, do we really believe that those guarantees would continue to be honoured by future Kelowna councils? And do we really want Kelowna deciding what Westside priorities are? Would the future of our community not be far better served by relying upon our own due diligence in holding our locally elected council accountable?

Finally, do we really want to entrust the planning of our Westside community’s future to the judgement of council members who, based on recent history, didn’t even think about locking the gate until the horse had already bolted and then described the whole (democratic) event as a “tragedy.”

And while the sorry (and anti-democratic) petition process plays itself out, Westside governance would limp along under the stewardship of people who really wish they weren’t there. Actually, I’m not even sure how they could, in all honesty, swear the required oath of office to carry out their elected duties to the best of their ability without regard for their personal interests.

For the first time I would welcome the usual dull election.

Beryl McNee,

Westbank

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